Posted by The San Francisco Dog Walker
I have been walking dogs in San Francisco for over 11 years now and I can truly say that I love doing this work!
In order to be a successful dog walker in San Francisco, you need to relish being outside everyday in any kind of weather condition. Tramping around in mud on stormy days, freezing cold windy days, you get the idea! The weather can make the job pleasant or unpleasant and that is something that you have to be willing to put up with. It is part of the job description and a must do. I happen to love a stroll through the woods on a rainy day. Do you?
Another job requirement for being a San Francisco dog walker is that you must be ok with a lot of driving! You must be able to drive without accidents or tickets and at the same time make quick pick ups and drop offs. You must operate like a UPS driver. In fact, that is exactly how you will feel, like a UPS driver. Driving the same route everyday can become really monotonous. Also this can be said for the tasks you do everyday. You need to remember to lock the houses, set the alarms, while answering text messages about schedule changes. You need to be a multi-tasker extraordinaire.
You need to be able to say good-bye to dogs. They will either die from old age or move to another location. This is very heartbreaking and if you really love them, you will cry. Emotions run high in this business, so you must be prepared for heartbreak. Can you stand having your dog ripped from your arms? You have to give so much of your heart to be a good dog walker, but you must also be able to walk away, if the time comes. Very difficult to do.
Ok so here is the most important requirement: you must love dogs. Correction, you must love YOUR dogs! Actually, this is the BIGGEST key to being a very successful dog walker in San Francisco. You must love each and every dog that you are taking to the park. You must open up your heart and let them in. Dogs know if you love them and will not follow your lead if you don’t. It is a given.
The best advice my sister gave me is, don’t take every dog that comes along. You must carefully choose candidates for your pack. Are they well trained? Do they have an excellent recall? Are they aggressive or have any play styles that might be misinterpreted by other dogs? Don’t be afraid to turn down dogs that will not be good for your pack. Do not try to grow big without considering how it will affect your day, your attitude and the behavior of your pack. I know for a fact that when you are walking too many dogs, you are tired and grumpy. The job no longer seems fun and you are not happy doing this work. Young, struggling dog walkers often work for dog walking companies as employees or contractors and need to make enough money to cover expenses. They often cut corners to make things work, thus there is a high turnover in the dog walking industry. They find out that the job requires too much work for the amount of pay and the fun of being with dogs all day looses its appeal.
I have been told time and time again that people really like my dogs and my pack. They are in awe that they behave so well. I have been called a dog whisperer, but mostly I just love my dogs and they know it. They are all really good dogs and behave. I chose my pack carefully and did not making “growing business” a priority. More importantly, I do the right thing for the dogs and the owners. Other dog walkers in San Francisco cannot say this.
Another must have – a strong desire to open your own business and willingness to put in the time. Owning your own dog walking business in San Francisco is not easy and you will need to love it so much that you are willing to spend the time. You need to market your business, interview clients, bill your clients every month, create schedules, purchase equipment and clean your vehicle inside and out. This is not a 9-5 job and you have to have the flexibility to work the many hours necessary to make the business take off.